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Main Blog->Scope Information->Sighting In Your Scope
Sighting In Your Scope

So you finally got that new scope and are ready to mount and sight it in on your favorite tactical, target, or hunting gun.  Or you got that longed for new hunting rifle and want to mount your old scope on it and sight it in.  Easy --- just line the crosshairs up where the bullet hits the bulls eye and you're done !  Yea... easy said, but not so often that easily done.  First you have to decide at what range you want to be ZEROED in at, bullet in the X of the bull’s eye  -- 100 yards - 200 yards - 300 yards - etc.   Okay, now you've made that decision so the next step is to get a least one shot ON PAPER so you can shoot up boxes of ammo ($$$$) tweaking your crosshairs until your bullet hits the X.   This blog is to help you achieve your scope sight in, in less time and at less cost of ammo.  We'll start with the PIC below for you to look at and consider.


sighting in your scope

For starters let's say you have weaver type mounting rings and the distance between the center of your barrel and the center of your scope is 2 inches.   In the PIC that would be the distance between the bullets trajectory at the end of the barrel and the line of sight of the scope is 2 inches. 

Option One for sighting in your scope would be to make the line of sight of your scope parallel to your barrel and know your bullet will hit at least 2 inches below where you have the crosshairs.  This is an easy sight in that can be done from 5 feet which makes it easy to get that first shot on paper.   I know quite a few hunters that sight in their scopes this way because their kill zone is pretty big and the 2inches makes little difference.  Plus when aiming they compensate for the 2 inches.  And that's fine for the hunter who is going to shoot from 200 yards or less.  When you get beyond that, this type of sight in has too much guesswork to be accurate. 

Option Two is to sight in your scope to be bull’s-eye ZERO at a specific range.  All right, we'll be dealing with elevation first as it is always the hardest.  We'll be referring to the PIC below for this option.   Let's say you have chosen to sight your scope in to ZERO at 300 yards. 

 In the PIC where the line of sight of the scope and the bullet trajectory cross is 300 yards.  Notice we had to point the line of sight of the scope down to make it cross the bullet trajectory.  I've seen a few people try to bend the barrel up but that doesn't work very well.  Don't be confused -- to move the line of sight down, we move the horizontal crosshair up!    Notice the 300 yard cross point and the scope line of sight, which is the horizontal crosshair in your scope.  If you are on ZERO at 300 yards and you put your crosshairs on a target less than 300 yards you shot will be low (underneath the line of sight) -- the closer you are to the target the lower your shot will be.   NOTE:  Your shot will be low up to the height difference between your center barrel and center scope -- in our case 2" max at zero distance.  And beyond the 300 yards your shot will be high -- well, until it crosses that magic bullet drop line where it will once again be right on target. 

Now that we've covered those basics, let's sight in your scope.  You are going to need a bench rest -- but then who would try to sight in a scope without one?  Set up a close target -- 5 to 10 feet away.

Using your bench rest,  put your crosshairs on the bull’s-eye and fire.  Let's say your shot looked like this -- high and to the right.   

Now here's the trick !  With your gun secure and in a fixed position on your bench rest, put your crosshairs back on the bull’s-eye as in the PIC above.  Then without moving your gun, using your scope adjustments, move your crosshairs over the bullet hole. 

You are now ZEROED in at what ever range you picked -- 5 feet , 10 feet.  etc.  and have fired only ONE SHOT

Now we are ZEROED in at a very close range.  Because the angle between the scope line of sight and the bullet trajectory is so great, if we fired a shot at a 300 yard target we'd likely be so high we would not be on paper.  So we're going to adjust our scope line of sight to be parallel with the barrel of our gun.   Measure the exact distance between center barrel and the center of your scope.  We're using 2" in the example.

Now mark a spot on your target exactly that height  ABOVE and lined up with the bull’s-eye as shown in PIC.  Remember we're sighted in on that bull’s-eye.   

Now just as we did for the sight in at 5 - 10 feet.  With your gun on the bench put the crosshairs on the bull’s-eye and with the gun not moving, using your scope adjustments move the elevation crosshair up to the 2" mark.  Now you are sighted in with parallel barrel and scope line of sight... which is OPTION ONE.  And you've fired only ONE SHOT ! 

  Now we'll sight in your scope at the 300 yards.  From your bench rest put the crosshairs on the bull's eye and fire one shot.  We shouldn't be over 2 inches high and really less due to bullet drop -   remember we're sighted in parallel.  In the PIC below we show the shot hit in line and 1.5 inches high. 

To the left is the bullet hole 1.5 inches high on target.  IF ? we could see the hole in the target we could sight in the same as we have done above; however, it is unlikely that you will see the bullet hole in the target at 300 yards. 

 So we've fired two shots and ARE NOT sighted in as promised.  What can we do.  Actually we have an easy fix from here.  It's call MOA (Minutes Of Angle)  There's a section on the MOA in "Knowing Your Scope" but for here we'll skip a lot of the details and say, the MOA adjustments are the little dials on your scope that click to adjust for windage and elevation.  Most scopes are set to what is called 1/4 MOA... but know what your scope is set at.   Here's what to remember:  ONE MOA moves the crosshairs ONE INCH at 100 YARDS.  It's actually 1.047  but 1 inch is close enough and certainly a lot easier to remember.  So we have 1 (MOA) - 1 (inch) - 1 (hundred yards)    And believe it or not we have 1 -2-2  &  1-3-3.....  1-6-6 and so on.  So at 300 yards if we adjust our scope by 1 MOA we'll move our target point 3 inches.  Our shot is 1.5 inches high.  So 1/2 MOA will move us 1.5 inches.  Which way do we move our elevation and how many clicks.  The reason for the PIC above is for this -- imagine you are putting the crosshairs on the bull's eye above - which way do you move the elevation.  Yep... it needs to move up.  4 clicks (1 MOA) will move it 3 inches at  300 yards.  So click the elevation adjustment UP by 2 clicks and you are sighted in.  IN ONLY TWO SHOTS !!!! 

 Other topics related to sighting in your scope:  Scopes and Bullet Drop -- "MAGIC AT 25 YARDS"

And for you AR15 owners:  AR 15 Carry Handle Mount

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We give you the facts -- you make the choice.